Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks: Will PGA Tour Long-Shot Run End At Bay Hill?

The long-shot thing is getting a little ridiculous


Mar 6, 2024

Those who have made picks or bets or fantasy lineups for the PGA Tour this season know full well that long shots have ruled the day. If there’s one place that could change, it’s at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this weekend.

There have been nine winners on Tour this season, and six of them entered the week with triple-digit odds. While two of the three outside that group were major winners — Hideki Matsuyama and Wyndham Clark — they secured their tourneys at 60-1 and 80-1, respectively. The shortest-odds winner on Tour has been Jake Knapp, who outlasted a weak field to win the Mexico Open at 40-1.

PGA Tour winners in 2024
Chris Kirk 200-1
Grayson Murray 400-1
Nick Dunlap 300-1
Matthieu Pavon 125-1
Wyndham Clark 60-1
Nick Taylor 125-1
Hideki Matsuyama 80-1
Austin Eckroat 100-1

This week, we’ve got another signature event, as the Tour drops by Arnold Palmer’s joint for the API at Bay Hill. Typically, this course is a brute, with plenty of water, and it can become downright infuriating for players if the wind kicks up. It should be a place where a big name takes home $3.6 million up top, yet Kurt Kitayama is the defending champion after winning at 200-1 odds a year ago. Kitayama, though, bucked the trends.

Recent Arnold Palmer Invitational winners
2023: Kurt Kitayama (200-1)
2022: Scottie Scheffler (20-1)
2021: Bryson DeChambeau (12-1)
2020: Tyrrell Hatton (50-1)
2019: Francesco Molinari (25-1)
2018: Rory McIlroy (16-1)

Let’s get into our Arnold Palmer Invitational picks, with all odds from FanDuel Sportsbook.

Bay Hill Golf Course
Defending champion: Kurt Kitayama
Favorites: Scottie Scheffler (+650), Rory McIlroy (+800)
Notes: By just about any and all metrics, Bay Hill is one of the most difficult courses on Tour, and many would argue it is the toughest. Trouble looms just about everywhere with fairways that average just 30 yards in width, 84 bunkers on property and water in play on nine holes. One of just three signature events with a cut, despite just 69 players in the field, with the low 50 (and ties) and players within 10 strokes of the 36-hole lead making the weekend.

First-round leader: Patrick Cantlay (+2500)
He does everything well, except win golf tournaments. Cantlay hasn’t lifted a trophy since August 2022, a pretty embarrassing run for a guy who hasn’t been outside the top 10 in the world since spring of 2021. But he typically starts fast. Cantlay leads the Tour in first-round scoring, and he shot an opening-round 68 in his API debut last week.

Top 20: Tom Hoge (+230)
The TCU product is a tempting long-shot pick to win it at 100-1. He has been one of the most consistent players on Tour this season. Hoge has two top-10 finishes in his last four starts, both signature events. His typically sterling approach play is back to where it was before a midseason funk last summer. The 34-year-old’s yielding a hot putter, too, making this better than 2-1 prop for him to just beat a little more than a third of the field tempting.

Top 10: Harris English (+400)
This pick is largely based on the belief that Bay Hill will play tough (unlike PGA National a week ago). English doesn’t typically go super low, but he’s a very solid player who keeps his ball in the fairway and doesn’t make a ton of bogeys. If players around him are ejecting left and right, English will stay steady and sail up the leaderboard. He finished second here a year ago and also recorded a top-10 finish in 2020 despite a poor week off the tee.

Winner: Xander Schauffele (+1800)
It’s a bit hypocritical to burn Cantlay earlier and then turn around and pick Schauffele to win. He hasn’t won since 2022, either. But the run he’s on is hard to ignore. Schauffele has four top-10 finishes in five starts this season, and he might be the hottest long-iron player going right now. He hits it straight, and he turns in clean cards. Schauffele has to just run into one at some point, and getting him at nearly three times the price as Scheffler and in the neighborhood of Ludvig Aberg or Jordan Spieth.

Other winner picks likely to make the card: Hoge (100-1), English (60-1), Keegan Bradley (60-1), Erik Van Rooyen (75-1)

Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images

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